NASCAR says new rules will put more racing ‘on the track’

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CONCORD, N.C. — With the goal of making the racing better and giving drivers more chances to show off their abilities, NASCAR announced a 2019 Cup rules package that features a tapered spacer to control the engines instead of a restrictor plate.

“Simply put it’s racing less on the wind tunnel and more on the track,” said Steve O’Donnell, chief racing development officer for NASCAR of the higher downforce package that will be used next season.

“It’s taking a lot of what we want to see and putting it back in the drivers’ hands.”

Teams were given these rules Monday night.

O’Donnell said the new package will give drivers the ability to make more moves in a race.

“You’ve got to really think about different moves and you will the ability to make those passes,” he said. “Right now, unless I’m missing something in terms of what we’re watching … I don’t see the option as much going into the corner at the speed that we would have in our new package.”

No driver has yet to drive this package. It will be used at Wednesday’s Goodyear tire test at Phoenix. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard.

The 750 horsepower package will be tested at Goodyear tests at Charlotte, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

“Let me dispel the myth that NASCAR is interested in pack racing everywhere,” O’Donnell said. “It’s taking the best of short tracks and the best of superspeedways.

“The best drivers and best teams are still going to win the race.”

O’Donnell said by backing down the speeds, it also will allow Goodyear to develop a tire that falls off more, putting more into the drivers’ hands.

At the All-Star Race, teams were limited to 400 horsepower. With this rules package, teams will have 550 horsepower at the tracks 1.33 miles and larger. With this rules package, teams will have 750 horsepower at the tracks shorter than 1.33 miles.

The Daytona 500 will again require a restrictor plate in Cup. After that, tapered spacers will be used at all other races. The restrictor plates will be retired after the Daytona 500 in Cup.

With some events having less horsepower, fuel mileage will be different. Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, stated that for those races, NASCAR will require teams to block three gallons of the fuel cell so that the number of laps run between full fuel runs should be the same.

Aero Elements

  • Spoiler: 8” x 61”
  • Splitter: 2” overhang, 10.5” wings at ends of splitter (near tires)
  • Radiator pan: 37” in front tapered to 31” with vertical fences
  • Aero ducts: Used at majority of oval tracks larger than 1 mile

Aero Elements

  • 750 horsepower: 1.17” tapered spacer (Used at short tracks and road courses)
  • 550 horsepower: 0.922” tapered spacer (Used at oval tracks larger than 1 mile)

Misc.

  • Enhanced vehicle chassis mandatory at all tracks (previously announced)
  • Adding 3 long block engine seals in points races. These are in addition to the 13 shortblock seals introduced this season.
  • 25% reduction in testing (3 organizational tests, down from 4; 3 teams at each Goodyear test, down from 4).

Cup starting lineup at Martinsville

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Fords flexed their muscle during Saturday’s qualifying, grabbing the first four spots and six of the first 11 for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Joey Logano will start from the pole, alongside Aric Almirola. Brad Keselowski will start in Row 2, alongside Kevin Harvick.

Row 3 will have Denny Hamlin and William Byron. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott make up Row 4, while Martin Truex Jr. and Daniel Suarez will start from Row 5.

Click here for the full row-by-row Cup starting lineup.

Note that the starting lineup is provisional until Sunday morning’s pre-race inspection. Any car that fails inspection will lose its starting spot and move to the back of the field.

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Joey Logano holds off Aric Almirola for Martinsville pole

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Led by defending NASCAR Cup Series champion and pole sitter Joey Logano, Fords dominated qualifying, capturing the four top spots for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

Logano covered the .526-mile oval with a speed of 97.830 mph, earning the 21st pole of his Cup career — with five of those now coming at Martinsville.

“You just have to be so precise and pushing yourself so hard in the corners, and a mistake is such a penalty,” Logano told Fox Sports 1. “It was awesome to get another pole here at Martinsville and hopefully we can top it off with … another win in the books.”

Aric Almirola was second fastest (97.643 mph), followed by Brad Keselowski (97.458), Kevin Harvick (97.832), Denny Hamlin (97.362), William Byron (97.202), Kyle Larson (97.098), Chase Elliott (97.053), Martin Truex Jr. (97.018), Daniel Suarez (96.830), Clint Bowyer (96.706) and Jimmie Johnson (96.573).

It appeared as if Almirola might take the pole, but Logano overtook him with just 34 seconds remaining in the final round.

“I just barely missed it by a little bit, and that’s all it takes,” Almirola told FS1. “We came up close, but just not enough.”

Kyle Busch failed to advance to the final round of qualifying. He’ll take the green flag Sunday from the 14th position in the 1,000th overall NASCAR start of his career. Just before Cup qualifying, Busch won the 201st race of his NASCAR career in the Truck Series race.

Click here for full qualifying results.

NOTES:

* The starting lineup is provisional until Sunday morning’s pre-race inspection. Any car that fails inspection will lose its starting spot and move to the back of the field.

* Daniel Suarez was penalized for speeding on pit road during the final round, but managed to bounce back for another try to earn the 10th starting spot.

* Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s first qualifying attempt was disallowed for speeding on pit road. He came back on-track to try again before the session expired, but could go no faster than 25th, failing to advance to the second round. “I didn’t feel I was going that fast (on pit road),” Stenhouse Jr. told Fox Sports 1. “Either way, our first or second time wasn’t good enough to make it. Definitely not the qualifying effort we wanted.”

* Cody Ware and Cory LaJoie did not make qualifying attempts, having to work on their race cars after being involved in wrecks during Saturday’s practice sessions.

* Sunday’s STP 500 (500 laps/263 miles) will take the green flag shortly after 2 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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Kyle Busch dominates en route to Truck win at Martinsville

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Less than a week after earning his 200th career NASCAR win, Kyle Busch began working on his next 200, capturing Saturday’s TruNorth Global 250 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Busch dominated the 32-truck event, leading 174 of the 250 laps around the .526-mile paper-clip shaped oval, winning under caution after Reid Wilson spun on the final lap. It was Busch’s third Truck start and win of 2019 – he also won at Atlanta and Las Vegas – and the 54th of his career.

Busch has two more Truck races left on his schedule this year (NASCAR limits full-time Cup drivers to a maximum of five starts in the Truck Series per year): Texas next Friday and Charlotte in May. If he wins those two races, he will have won all five this year and six in a row dating back to his last Truck start of 2018 at Pocono.

What’s more, Busch now has seven wins in 11 starts across all three NASCAR series thus far this season. He goes for career win No. 202 when he makes his 1,000th career NASCAR start in Sunday’s STP 500 NASCAR Cup race.

“We made wholesale changes to this thing all weekend long, to make it faster,” Busch told Fox Sports. “We had enough tire at the end to hold them off.”

Ben Rhodes finished second, followed by Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, pole sitter Stewart Friesen, Myatt Snider, Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Bubba Wallace.

“We just needed a little something more, we got beat by the best in the business,” Rhodes said of Busch to Fox Sports. “Overall, it was a good, happy day. We’ve got some momentum going and we go on to the next race and see if we can beat him the next time.”

Click here for full results.

Click here for updated point standings.

The only significant caution of note in the race occurred with eight laps to go in the first stage, when the No. 12 Chevrolet of Gus Dean went up in flames – possibly from an oil fire. He was uninjured.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ross Chastain

WHAT’S NEXT: Vankor 350, March 29 at 9 p.m. ET, Texas Motor Speedway.

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Chase Elliott leads Hendrick Chevy sweep of top three in final practice

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Chase Elliott paced the final Cup practice Saturday at Martinsville Speedway, turning a 97.542 mph lap on the 0.526-mile oval.

Teammate Alex Bowman was second fastest, and Jimmie Johnson made it a sweep of the top three speeds for Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, which have been winless since Elliott’s win last October at Kansas Speedway..

Austin Dillon and Paul Menard rounded out the top five in the 50-minute session.

The rest of the top 10 were comprised of Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones (the highest-ranked Toyota) and Martin Truex Jr.

Clint Bowyer, who won at Martinsville a year ago, was fastest in the first practice Saturday morning when Chris Buescher was the fastest Chevy in seventh.

The practice ended under a red flag after a crash for Cody Ware.

Qualifying for the STP 500 will be at 5:10 p.m. on FS1.

Click here for speeds during the final practice at Martinsville.